My SkinCare Fails (and Lessons Learned)

Okay, so let me say a few things first here.

First off, I am not a skincare expert. I am just a girl who has suffered with acne FOREVER and I am tired of it. I have trialed so many things and I think I am finally finding some relief!

Second, I have chosen to use more natural products specifically because I experienced a few liver issues in the past year (for unknown reasons) and I would like to minimize any and all toxic products that I use, eat, etc. (Birth control is SO TOXIC–important sidenote!!)

Third, this is currently all about the topical things I am using, BUT skincare is way more than topical. In fact, for me, most of my breakouts have to do with how my body is feeling internally. Hormonal breakouts are inevitable for me, BUT can I limit it to just one pimple?? Hopefully! Getting your gut (and stress!!) under control is SUCH a huge component in all this. I will likely happily write about that soon too πŸ˜‰ Eliminating sugars specifically has helped me tremendously… I’ll stop there, haha

Fourth, even if you don’t use any of the products that I use (because we ALL need something different), I would HIGHLY recommend checking your products for comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients. I like to use this list on the AOS website (they also sent me a bookmark with them all with my first purchase!! I carry it around whenever I’m shopping). The other list I go to is on ClearSTEM’s website here – just in case one doesn’t load πŸ˜‰

Fifth, because I LOVE Art of Skincare (I literally just stumbled upon them one day after so many searches), I am going to provide links to them. They have been so great to me. If you buy things through my link, they might like me more, so show some support πŸ˜‰ Okay, but really, their website is super informative AND everything is marked “Acne Safe” if it is! They do the work without you having to look through the list. It’s awesome. Between them and ClearSTEM – who has created only acne-safe, non-toxic, and non-hormonal items, I honestly don’t plan on buying skincare items from anywhere else anymore.

Okay, let’s get to it!

Things that didn’t work for me:

  1. Jojoba oil. I bought this straight from Trader Joe’s with the intent of using it as a moisturizer. I had read it somewhere and was excited to try something natural. It basically just made my skin oily. I didn’t see any extreme differences either way, but that’s both good and bad. Maybe it works on people that need some oil/moisture in their lives, but I DEFINITELY don’t need that! I do now use this for my hair, though! I put it on my split ends – just not too much because it can make it oily/stringy looking.
  2. Rodan & Fields Unblemish. I used this routine for YEARS. At first, it looked like it helped a little bit, but it wasn’t drastic and there’s a good chance I was hoping it would work just because it can be an expensive thing to invest in. Plus I needed to justify getting that PC Perks membership. I didn’t want to let it go for so long just in case, but I finally cut it loose a few months ago! It just didn’t work for me. You have to make sure you look at ALL of the ingredients!!
  3. Tea Tree Oil face wash (this one). I don’t know why I trusted a random stranger who said this helped her hormonal acne, but I did. I used it for about 6 months and all I saw was more blackheads.
  4. Charcoal scrub sponges. Okay, I don’t know about these. I like how they feel on my face, but I don’t know that it really does anything. My face might feel slightly smoother, but I also might be pushing dirt and dead skin back into my face. IDK. But if you want to try one, I’ve tried both 100 percent pure and Bkind and I hands down prefer the one from Bkind. It stays together WAY longer.
  5. Turmeric masks. Okay, I tried this with coconut oil and I thought it might have done something, but honestly I just think the slight tint of the turmeric made the redness of my acne go away for a few minutes while it tricked my mind and gave me a slight yellow/orange/tan tint. I don’t know, maybe it works for other people, but I can’t say I’ll be doing it again. Plus it’s messy and can stain your things very easily!
  6. Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, all those things. I used to even get prescription topical ointments from my physician. Those didn’t work. That’s really all I can say. This was years ago, but again, with hormonal acne – that is coming from inside. Maybe these would work occasionally, but Benzoyl Peroxide honestly just dried my face out partially and bleached a lot of my towels. Kind of sucked.
  7. Neutrogena Face Wash. Just didn’t work. I think it tried, but it basically did nothing. It was very basic and years ago, but not something I’ll try again.
  8. St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub. Nope, nothing there. Might have made my face feel okay for a hot sec, but nope. This was awhile ago, but it didn’t last long.


Things that might be working for me (I’m pretty sure): It really takes a few weeks before you can truly start noticing differences, so anyone that says “this changed my skin the moment I started using it” is probably either lying, going through a purging phase, or what I like to call a “switching products phase” where for 2-4 days your skin looks great. I don’t know why, it just does (maybe this is deep down the trick!? HA).

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar (Trader Joe’s brand). Okay, Scott HATES this and I don’t blame him. It obviously does not smell great when you rub it on your face, haha. BUT, I have noticed that it not only tingles when you put it on (I assume that is okay), but a few hours after/in the morning, it actually does draw things out. I’ll usually put this on at night, because I used to do it during work and then I had whiteheads pop up around 11am in addition to the other whiteheads that would pop up just due to excess oil. Now I put it on at night so that if anything crazy pops up, I’ll notice right when I wake up in the morning!
  2. Pink Clay Floral Face Mask (Bkind). I might use this 1 time every week or every other week. I checked it for pore-clogging ingredients and it’s GOOD! I notice my skin looking a little clearer but nothing super dramatic here either. It might work, it might not. I don’t notice much to be honest. I also like their rose facial scrub, but it has pore-clogging ingredients so I haven’t used it in awhile (it leaves my skin feeling so smooth…but probably clogs my pores too HA).
  3. Blueberry Acai Scrub (Trader Joe’s). I only use this once every 1-2 weeks also. I think it does something, but I’m not sure. It also could just be pushing things into my skin. It’s all natural and not pore-clogging and it makes my skin feel a little soft afterwards. It feels good when I rub it on too, but again, not sure if it’s truly helping or not!?
  4. Β Face Reality Mandelic Acid Face and Body Wash. This is MY JAM. I use this in the morning and at night (for about 4 weeks now) and I have seen a difference in my skin. My pores are smaller and my forehead is shiny in a good way, not an oily way. Needless to say, I’m super excited to get more mandelic acid things soon (see below)!


5. ClearStem SkinCare Anti-Acne and Anti-Aging Serum. I really like this serum, but I do switch back and forth between this one and Face Reality. That being said, I really like this serum and I will definitely buy it again. It can be expensive, though so you have to watch for deals! Mine has lasted me quite a few months though since I switch between 2 different serums. I feel like it has helped me get rid of my scarring and just make my skin smoother and shinier (in a good way). I really like that it’s natural, too!

6. Face Reality Hydrating HydraBalance. I use this probably about 3-5x/week, usually right after I apply my apple cider vinegar. I haven’t seen anything dramatic, but I don’t use any other moisturizer or anything right now, so I think it’s important. The lady that gave me a facial told me that my skin may be overproducing oil because it’s dehydrated? I’m not sure because she also put an algae mask on my face when I asked her to use non-comedogenic products (then tried to sell me a moisturizer that had comedogenic products in it too).. so who knows if it was a business tactic or what, but so far, no harm, no foul.


Things I’m going to be TRYING based off of my consult with Art Of Skincare! (fingers crossed they help!)

  1. Face Reality Mandelic Acid 8% Serum. You have to do a consult with a specialist to get this πŸ™‚ – I really love this though!
  2. Face Reality Cran-Peptide Cream. Just got a sample of this that I’m going to try! I know it’s pretty new so we’ll see!
  3. Face Reality Moisture Balance Toner. I think Scott will like the smell of this better than Apple Cider Vinegar hahahaha. I also bought these gauze pads to try with it – not sure how they’ll work, but I will let ya know πŸ˜‰
  4. Face Reality Clearderma Moisturizer. Heard from a friend this is awesome! Excited to try it out πŸ™‚ — As of 11/19: I’ve had great success with this and love it!
  5. Face Reality SPF 28. I haven’t had a good sunscreen in awhile. Heard this was a little greasy for one of my friends, but even if it doesn’t work for my face, I figured I can always use this on my body πŸ™‚ Won’t clog my other pores πŸ˜‰ — As of 11/19: I’ve had great success with this too!

DEFINITELY follow me on Instagram if you don’t already if you want updates on these (@jennpalmer19). I’ll do my best to update this blog, but any immediate updates will be there πŸ˜‰

Makeups to try! This is HUGE. I won’t go through all of the things I threw out (it was a lot), but I actually sat down on a Friday night and went through all of my face products to see what had pore clogging ingredients. NOTE: It’s a lot. Even the ones that say they “help with blemishes” might have pore-clogging ingredients, so CHECK YOUR STUFF PEEPS!!

  1. Not ALL things from 100% pure are non-comedogenic. They are natural, but natural things CAN STILL CLOG YOUR PORES (read that again). I didn’t know this until recently, so don’t feel bad. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it, but duhhhh. So I have this foundation from 100% pure that is non-comedogenic. Because I have oily skin, though, sometimes my face does push it out and it can get a little cakey towards the end of the day. Not sure if I’ll get it again, but maybe if I was better at applying it, it would be better? I’m just not great with makeup lolz
  2. Sharing the all-natural mascara that I LOVE from 100% pure. It’s tinted with berries and therefore smells like them. I don’t know if this is non-comedogenic, but I figured it’s okay to use anyways since it’s on my eyelashes!? Hopefully! I’m obsessed with it. And like I said, I’m not a makeup person.
  3. Mineral Essence. Found this on ArtOfSkinCare again – I really love it right now. I will buy it again for sure. It has good coverage and makes my skin look less oily when I first apply it in the morning. Of course, with oily skin, it kind of melts away as the day goes on, but that’s normal with everything for me. (on the hunt for a non-pore-clogging-makeup-spray). If you don’t like this makeup – you can always look at all the other ones on their website. Like I said, they do the work and write “acne safe” next to it. I just like to look for more natural things πŸ™‚ Might get Au Naturale next in addition to this!!
  4. I got this Naked PaletteΒ (I think it was this one…)Β from 100% pure as a free gift from buying so many items one time. It’s non-comedogenic from what I looked up, natural, and I like it. I’m pretty basic.

That’s kind of it because I don’t really wear makeup sooooo

Don’t forget about your shampoos and hair products! I’m working on switching these still. I found a shampoo that is all non-comedogenic and natural. It’s Naked Bee. I haven’t been able to find a natural conditioner yet that is not pore-clogging. I’ve truthfully been switching back and forth between Naked Bee and OGX shampoo just because, honestly, my hair doesn’t feel amazing after the Naked Bee one. It doesn’t feel awful either, it just doesn’t feel silky smooth unless I put a bunch of leave in conditioner in (or jojoba oil). This is probably because it’s all natural and not coating my hair, but it is hard to get used to – just to make you aware. I have noticed less clogged pores along my hairline since I started using this! Especially because I’m active and sweat a lot, this has helped me!!

OKAY everyone. Sorry that I didn’t include many pictures.. maybe I’ll update this and include some more at some point πŸ˜‰ I TRULY hope this helps you narrow down your skincare items and routine. It will always be a work in progress and I am so happy to be transparent and share everything with you. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions/comments, ANYTHING!! Just remember, you’re not alone in this acne struggle. <3


Until next time,


PS if you’re wondering how to save money to pay for all these crazy skincare products, check out my other blogs regarding Simple Ways to Save Money and All About My Student Loans. πŸ™‚

Published by Jennifer Palmer PT, DPT

Instagram: @thesleepdpt Twitter: @thesleepdpt Facebook: The Sleep DPT Facebook Group: The Sleep DPT & Friends

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